If you drive towards town today, coming from the North, you will see – on a distant hill to the South – several rows of tiny dots on a lush green field. Tents. The rows are so perfect, the field so green, that even from this distance it’s obvious that each one will be taut, sturdy, warm and dry. At a roundabout or junction there will be a small and discreet sign, directing you towards something called ‘DO Lectures’.
For three nights those tents will be occupied by people from all over the world, and even more visitors will stay in nearby b&b’s, all of them arriving for three days of talks, community and inspiration. This event is called ‘Do Wales’.
What is Do Wales?
I’ll steal a quote from the DO website;
‘The idea is a simple one. We gather together the world’s great DOers, disruptors and changemakers, have them share their hearts and stories, and encourage others to go and DO great things too.
We began over fourteen years ago. They were humble times. Now our events have a global reputation. At DO, some of the most progressive visionaries and thinkers of our times have told the stories of their lives. And those stories have helped to change other people’s lives.
Our events are intimate and magical. They always will be. We believe it builds a better community. ‘
I spoke at Do Wales last year and afterwards, over coffee and some delicious baking, I found myself talking to people from Holland, Germany and Canada, all of whom had travelled to the UK solely for the event. That may not sound like such a big deal to you if you’re an urban dweller, but this is a rural community in West Wales, and our nearest motorway is an hour’s drive away, and then its another three hours (if the conditions are good) to London, and even by train it’s four hours and then a car drive to get to that lush green hillside overlooking the sea. So why does DO Wales attract so many luminaries, so many active and successful people?
It’s very difficult to answer that, to explain what makes this event so worthwhile and rewarding. Is it the welcome, the warmth of the hosts, the mix of the people, the great variety of speakers, the innovative ideas, the out-of-the-frame thinking? Or is it something to do with the lovely and slightly crumbly old farm buildings, or the great food and the nearby beach, the swims in the morning, and the wonderful music in the evenings? Or is it the laughter and the acceptance of who you are, the appreciation of what you bring, the forging of new friendships? Yes. All of those things. Absolutely, all of those things.
Although I spoke last year and will be speaking there again this year, I’m not an expert on the magic effect of DO Wales. I can’t wrap up the experience in a neat little bundle to explain the event or show you exactly what DO Wales might give you. I think it gives everyone something different, something they will appreciate and benefit from and that this will be different each time. I didn’t know anything at all about the DO organisation until last year but since then I’ve met its founder, David Hieatt. He’s a creative and originator, an enabler. And he is the driving force, the inspiration whose can-do and will-do life force brings all these people here and creates lasting warmth and fellowship.
It just takes one person.
At a time when our government and nation seems to be in such chaos, it’s good to remember that there are men and women in the world who can unite rather than divide, inspire rather than judge, create rather than destroy. I’m listening to the news as I write this, to 24hour rolling news, full of speculation and drama and many rent-a-gobs, all speaking with far far too much glee and schadenfreude as the government topples slowly into the mire. There’s a sour taste to it all, and I’m glad to turn away from all that and to think instead of that field of tents, of all those people converging on Cardigan. I’m taking a moment to thank God that there are people in the world who innovate, who break the pattern, who wander off the well-worn path into new pastures, reaching out to link arms with strangers and so make them friends.
On Saturday I’ll be speaking to people of all ages, all races, all backgrounds, men, women, industrialists, technologists, psychologists, athletes, a mermaid (!), wealthy, broke, aspiring, reflective, funny, focussed, and far far too clever for me. What can I bring to the table?
Hmmm. Just me, I suppose.